What is it like to be a non-diabetic personal trainer training individuals with diabetes?
Everyone is different. What a general statement that could literally mean anything, but in this case I am referring to all of my clients and their diabetes profiles being completely different. One takes insulin, one doesn’t. One is type 1, one is type 2. One responds well to weight lifting and higher heart rate levels, whereas another’s cells become more sensitive to insulin with walking and lower heart rate activity. One needs to take immediate action if blood sugar levels drop below 90, while another is comfortable there and knows that with some exercise blood sugar will stay stable or even rise a bit. It is a puzzle where multiple pieces of information fit together to make an educated decision about how to properly advise the client once real time glucose levels are tested. Taking into consideration, time of day, last food eaten and at what time, last medication adjustment and at what time, and most importantly, current glucose level, personal training and exercise for diabetes is a unique and fragile science.
As a trainer without diabetes, you may wonder how I am training people with diabetes. How can I fully grasp the ups and downs, highs and lows, advise, connect, and be able to guide someone through the psychological and physical maze of exercising with diabetes? Fortunately, with a background in exercise, nutrition, and lots and lots of science classes, understanding the mechanisms and physiology comes fairly easily to me. Even more fortunately, I love psychology and counseling, and feel very comfortable and comforted by the idea of helping others achieve their peace with living with diabetes. With these two things on my side, many clients might never question credibility or ability to perform my job. I would even say that I might be better at it for not having diabetes because I have to understand every possible situation. It makes a challenge, and we are in this challenge together!